Friday, September 06, 2019

Netflix's Live-Action 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' Series Begins Graphic and Costume Testing

Update (9/6) - Winter is Coming been contacted by the producers behind this project, who have informed them that it’s a fan film/proof of concept using the world of Avatar to showcase new VFX/production technology, and in no way actually affiliated with Netflix’s show. So…basically ignore everything below here.

Last September, Netflix and Nickelodeon announced that the streaming service was making a live-action adaptation of Nickelodeon's beloved animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. Since the initial announcement last fall, not much more has been revealed about the project. And whilst it looks like filming on the series has yet to commence and the cast still to be announced, it sounds like the series is now gaining momentum!

Reddit user @bonanzarama posted in the r/TheLastAirbender Subreddit that the live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender series has begun visual effects and costume testing in Los Angeles, California - and shared some behind-the-scenes awesome photos from the tests! Below is bonanzarama's post in full!:

I got a chance to work on a visual effects test for the new live action series!
Like the title says, I got a chance to work on a visual effects test for the new live action series and thought I’d share the experience!

We filmed two test scenes in a huge green screen studio in Los Angeles: one in Lord Ozai’s throne room, and the other in the tundra with Katara and Sokka. All the backdrops were keyed digitally.

From what I gathered, Netflix has reached out to multiple VFX companies to do these sorts of tests, so this was just one company’s bid. Word on set was that Netflix was planning to film most of the show on-location in Vancouver and Hawaii. Somebody also said Netflix wants this Avatar series “to be their own Game of Thrones.”

James Lew played Ozai, Kevin Garner played Sokka, and Kate Buatti played Katara. I’m 99.9% sure they were just stand-ins for the tests, but James Lew sounded like he either auditioned or was planning to audition.

The throne room scene just consisted of test shots of Ozai sitting on the throne (with one leg up, which did not seem very Lord Ozai to me so I hope they don’t actually treat him that casually in the real thing) and standing and walking down—nothing crazy. The oddest thing was that they insisted he wear a hat as the Fire Lord.

Sokka and Katara’s scene had dialogue and some action. They were bickering about Sokka’s boomerang and how they need to hunt for fish when a group of “marauders” spotted them and chased after them. Katara yelled and threw up a wall of ice or something (the bending will be added in post) and then Sokka exclaimed, “Katara, you’re a waterbender!” Katara reeled in shock like she had no idea. Not sure if this is actual dialogue from the official script, but it’s weird to me that Katara wouldn’t always know that she’s a bender, let alone that she would start off with enough power to shield them from three big guys chasing after them.

From what little I saw, I hope Netflix doesn't end up leaning too heavily on green screen backdrops and that they prioritize the real locations. Also hope they don’t twist the story too much, although I know they've said it's a retelling. We’ll see!

Here’s some quick pics I managed to grab from the set and the monitors that showed the live-keying:


Update (8/29): Martial arts actor James Lew has posted a few Avatar-esque behind-the-scenes photos on Instagram, which could mean we can preeeeeety much assume has been hired by Netflix to work on The Last Airbender in some capacity. He also revealed that Talin Chat, Chris Cortez and Brandon Lee are involved with the project:

View this post on Instagram

And my throne...dragons of course! #Iamthechosenone

A post shared by James Lew (@dragonmasterjames) on

View this post on Instagram

And my throne...dragons of course! #Iamthechosenone

A post shared by James Lew (@dragonmasterjames) on

The new Avatar: The Last Airbender live action series is from the original creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, who will serve as showrunners and executive producers.

Avatar: The Last Airbender aired for 61 episodes over three seasons originally on Nickelodeon, where it began in February 2005 and concluded in July 2008. The series was nominated for—and won—Annie Awards, Genesis Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award, and a Peabody Award. Avatar: The Last Airbender follows the adventures of the main protagonist Aang and his friends, who must save the world by defeating Fire Lord Ozai and ending the destructive war with the Fire Nation.

Konietzko and DiMartino also created a follow-up series, The Legend of Korra, that returned to the world of Avatar years after Aang’s death to follow Korra, his successor as Avatar. That series ran between 2012-2014.

The stories of both Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra have continued on in graphic novel series.

More Nick: Netflix to Host Open Casting Call for Live-Action 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' Series!

Originally published: Wednesday, August 28, 2019.

Original source: OtakuPT; Additional sources: Winter is Coming, GWW; Update H/T: Special thanks to @JeffreyKare for the news!
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